On Thursday, 10 November, the Director of the UNU Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology, Prof. Luc Soete, will deliver a high-profile public lecture on “Reflections on Innovation,” as part of the distinguished Tans Lecture Series, at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. The Tans Lecture is organized every year to honor Dr. J. Tans (1912–1993), the founder of Maastricht University.
The lecture will explore the idea that “innovation is good for you”, a claim that has been widely and commonly made in science, technology and innovation studies over the past decades. This claim, however, is surprising given that the focus of such studies is often on innovation failure rather than innovation success. Hence in this Tans Lecture, Prof. Soete will ask the simple, but straightforward question: “Could it be that innovation is not always good for you?”
It is often argued that, at a societal level, innovation renews society’s dynamics and facilitates higher levels of economic development and welfare. Innovation may lead to to processes of creative destruction, where a few incumbents suffer to the benefit of many newcomers. However, sometimes the opposite may occur, involving a process of destructive innovation that benefits a few at the expense of many.
In this period of “crises”, examples abound of such destructive creative and innovation processes. This Tans Lecture will highlight some typical examples of such destructive innovation: our unsustainable fossil fuel-based economic growth at the global level; European monetary integration at the continental level; and financial innovation at the sectoral level.
Professor Luc Soete was the founding director of MERIT, which he set up in 1988; he also oversaw the integration in 2005 of MERIT into UNU-INTECH to form the new UNU research and training centre, UNU-MERIT. He is a member of the Dutch scientific advisory body Adviesraad voor Wetenschap en Technologie (AWT). Most recently, Prof. Soete was appointed as Rector of Maastricht University, a position he is expected to take up in 2012.
Before coming to Maastricht in 1986, he worked at the Department of Economics of the University of Antwerp (previously known as UFSIA), the Institute of Development Studies and the Science Policy Research Unit both at the University of Sussex, and the Department of Economics at Stanford University. Professor Soete completed his first degrees in economics and development economics at the University of Ghent, Belgium, before obtaining his D.Phil. in economics at the University of Sussex. His research interests cover the broad range of theoretical and empirical studies of the impact of technological change, in particular new information and communication technologies on employment, economic growth, and international trade and investment, as well as the related policy and measurement issues.
Collegezaal Tongersestraat 53
Maastricht, the Netherlands